ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani couldn’t connect at the plate, going 0 for 3 while twice leaving runners in scoring position. Although Ohtani was solid on the mound, he couldn’t retire Sean Murphy in two key situations.
Ohtani sometimes has to do it all by himself for the struggling Angels to win, and the Oakland Athletics did just enough against the two-way superstar to claim an encouraging victory.
Murphy homered and drove in three runs off Ohtani, leading the A’s to a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
James Kaprielian (3-5) pitched six-hit ball into the sixth as the A’s snapped their three-game losing streak by beating Ohtani (9-7), who has no victories over Oakland in five mound appearances since 2018.
Ohtani yielded seven hits and two earned runs while pitching into the sixth inning of his third straight defeat, again falling short of his career-best 10th mound victory after Murphy hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the sixth. The AL MVP struck out seven A’s, which ended his streak of six consecutive starts with double-digit strikeouts just short of Nolan Ryan’s franchise-record seven.
“He had his fair share of punchouts, but that’s what he’s going to do,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “I think we had good at-bats and got his pitch count up and got him out early.”
Ohtani was fairly happy with his slider-heavy mound performance, but he lamented his effort at the plate. He has received one run of support from himself and his fellow Angels hitters during his three-game skid.
“Especially in the situation with (runners on) second and third, one out (in the third inning), I felt like if I came through in that at-bat, we could have won the game,” Ohtani said through his translator. “Since I didn’t, I felt like that was the biggest moment of the game.”
Ohtani left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh because of a cramp in his right forearm, but he said he expects to play Thursday. Los Angeles had pinch-hit for Ohtani only twice previously this season, both occurring after Ohtani felt minor injuries.
“If I’m healthy enough to play, I want to be out there,” Ohtani said. “It feels like I can’t really afford to miss games at this point.”
Luis Rengifo had a tying RBI double in the fifth for the Angels, who have lost four of six in another dismal season.
Murphy had an RBI single in the fourth, followed by his two-run shot to left. The catcher was 0 for 5 in his career against Ohtani before those consecutive run-scoring hits.
“Murph has been putting good at-bats together for two months,” Kotsay said. “Tonight, he was basically a one-man wrecking show.”
Mickey Moniak started in center field and went 0 for 2 in his debut with the Angels, who acquired the former No. 1 overall pick from Philadelphia while trading Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday. Left-hander Tucker Davidson also arrived in Anaheim from Atlanta with plans to enter the rotation Sunday in Seattle.
Ohtani started out with three innings of one-hit ball, but Oakland scored an unearned run in the fourth when Ramon Laureano reached on Rengifo’s throwing error, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Murphy’s single.
Rengifo atoned in the fifth with a two-out double to the gap, scoring Magneuris Sierra. Rengifo has a hit in 30 of his last 33 games, and he was the Angels’ only consistent hitter in July while they batted a pathetic .199 as a team.
ANOTHER MICKEY IN ANAHEIM
Moniak is a native of North San Diego County, about an hour south of Angel Stadium. Although he managed just 12 hits in 47 big league appearances over the past three seasons, Moniak has made significant progress this year, both before and after his hand was broken by a pitch in the final game of spring training.
“I’ve always been a guy that maybe takes a little bit to get comfortable at every level, and once I get comfortable, it’s on from there,” said Moniak, who batted .310 with a .924 OPS across the minors this season. “So, wasn’t really given that opportunity (in Philadelphia), which makes sense. They’re always in a pennant hunt with a lot of money on the field, so just to be here and be told that you’re going to go out and play and have some fun is huge.”
Angels manager Phil Nevin, whose son played travel ball with Moniak, said the outfielder will play regularly for the rest of the season.
Angels: OF Mike Trout planned to start rotational exercises Wednesday in his comeback from a complicated back injury. He is expected to begin swinging a bat soon.
Janson Junk (1-0, 0.00 ERA) returns from his first major league victory to start the Angels’ homestand finale after throwing six scoreless innings in his two major league appearances this season. Oakland counters with Paul Blackburn (6-6, 4.15), who is 0-4 in his last seven starts.